Too Hot

January 4, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Posted in Climate Change | Leave a comment

In the fall of ’73, I was an undergraduate student majoring in Chemistry at UCLA. Interestingly, the very first lecture I attended at UCLA, which was given by Nobel Prize winner Willard F. Libby of carbon-dating fame, focused on two emerging issues pertinent to Chemists at the time: ozone depletion, caused by chlorofluorcarbons such as Freon, and Global Warming, caused by the release of vast quantities of carbon dioxide during the burning of fossil fuels (surprising huh? so much for most scientists predicting global cooling in the 1970s). For about half the lecture, Dr. Libby discussed the properties of carbon dioxide that allow it to trap heat in a manner akin to glass trapping heat in a greenhouse, or in your car when you leave it parked in direct sunlight for that matter.

People should take off their ideological blinders and educate themselves. Carbon dioxide traps heat. Human beings have released and are releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Surface temperatures are increasing; according to NASA/NOAA, 2005 was the warmest of the last 130 years; and with the exception of 1998, every year during this decade has been warmer than any previous year for which accurate global temperature measurements are available (1880 through 2000). During the 20th century average sea level increased at a rate of 1.7 mm/year. Over the last 20 years, the rate of increase has been about 3.4 mm/year. Stratospheric temperatures are decreasing, as would be expected if warming at the surface were due to trapped heat, rather than increasing, as would be expected if solar or cosmic radiation were the cause. The last time that carbon dioxide levels were as high as they are now the arctic was ice-free and sea level was several meters higher.

In any case, although groupthink can occur amongst scientists, and climatology is obviously a very complex subject, the basic underpinnings supporting the AGW hypothesis are very solid and relatively easy to understand if one is actually interested in understanding and is willing to put in some time researching the subject in an earnest manner.


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